Attending the recent "Winning Is Everything" conference presented by The Advisory Board, I got the distinct impression that the dynamics have changed with regard to what it takes to be a successful accounting firm.
Firms can no longer be successful by just having a couple of rainmakers who bring in business based on cultivating one-to-one relationships. Now, among the keys to success are strategic planning, the need for team players, accountability, initiative, and the screening out of individuals who undermine the firm culture. There also is increased training and attention to the development of staff to promote retention, reliance on technology, a focus on marketing, and increased client selectivity.
Most importantly, successful firms are good at developing and promoting a firm culture, which serves a number of purposes. It is intended to identify what distinguishes the firm and to ensure that all firm members are striving for the same goal in the basic same manner. Developed correctly, it can then be used in marketing efforts and in staff and partner recruitment.
I firmly believe that CPAs with certain personality traits are more likely to work for the successful firms. They are individuals who are comfortable with change, are quick to recognize and act on opportunities, are outgoing, technology savvy, and are genuinely interested in improving the business operations and financial wealth of clients. They are also individuals who understand the importance of promoting firm profitability in contrast to the "eat what you kill" mentality.
Bottomline, the focus has indeed changed. Smart CPAs and firms are less historically oriented, and are instead proactive with a focus on future profitability for the firm and for its clients.
Many firms are still using the old model. Their days are numbered unless they change.
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